Bertram Brooker

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Bertram Brooker
Brooker painting.jpg
Brooker painting in his studio, 1943
Born Bertram Richard Brooker
31 March 1888
Croydon, England,
Died March 22, 1955(1955-03-22) (aged 66)
Nationality English-Canadian
Known for Writing, Painting, Music
Movement Abstract impressionism
Awards Governor General's 1936 Award for Fiction

Bertram Richard Brooker (March 31, 1888 – March 22, 1955) was a Canadian writer, painter, musician, and advertising agency executive.

Born in Croydon, England, to Richard Brooker and Mary Ann (Skinner) Brooker, he moved to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1905 with his family. In 1913 he rented a movie theatre in Neepawa, Manitoba. That same year he married Mary Aurilla (“Rill”) Porter. In 1914 he became editor of the Portage Review, a local newspaper. In 1915 he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Engineers in Winnipeg. After the war he worked for The Winnipeg Tribune, The Regina Leader-Post and The Winnipeg Free Press.

He moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1921 and joined the staff of Marketing magazine. Brooker served as the magazine's editor and publisher from 1924 until 1926. In 1923, he published his first book, Subconscious Selling. In 1929 he joined the staff of the J.J. Gibbons Advertising Agency.

In 1931 Brooker was embroiled in a controversy about nudity in art when a painting of his was removed from a gallery exhibition because it contained nudity.[1] Brooker later wrote the essay "Nudes and Prudes" in 1931 as a rebuke.[2]

In 1936, Brooker's novel Think of the Earth (1936) became the first work to win the Governor General's Award for Fiction. In 1940 he joined the staff of the MacLaren Advertising Co.

Brooker is often regarded[by whom?] as the first Canadian abstract impressionist, although Kathleen Munn exhibited abstract paintings before Brooker exhibited his.[3] He was strongly influenced in his development as an artist by LeMoine Fitzgerald[citation needed].

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Subconscious Selling (1923)
  • Layout Technique in Advertising (1929), writing as Richard W. Surrey
  • Copy Technique in Advertising (1930), writing as Richard W. Surrey
  • Elijah (1930), drawings
  • Think of the Earth (1936)
  • The Tangled Miracle (1936), writing as Huxley Hearne[4]
  • The Robber (1949)
  • Sounds Assembling: The Poetry of Bertram Brooker (1980)


  1. ^ Biography of Bertram Brooker, retrieved on May 25th 2007.
  2. ^ Nudes and Prudes by Bertram Brooker, retrieved on May 25th 2007.
  3. ^ Roald Nasgaard,Abstract Painting in Canada, Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver and Art Gallery of Novia Scoria, Halifax, 2007, pp. 19-21
  4. ^ Clara Thomas, Canadian Novelists 1920-1945, Longmans, Green and Comoany, Toronto, 1946 p. 16


  • Reid, Dennis. Bertram Brooker, 1888-1955 Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1973.

External links[edit]